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Hearts & Minds - Information for ChangeSM

The End Poverty CampaignSM Platform
The most ambitious and achievable plan to end extreme poverty worldwide

See also: Intro to this platform

You can help end extreme poverty worldwide.

Picture of a young girl on Ilha Grande island, Brazil

Every child should be able to grow up with love and prospects for a better future. Young girl, Ilha Grande, Brazil

The world has all the resources and proven techniques to make this happen. You can help support this achievable platform.

We've done it before
We advocate that the governments of the world’s richest nations give 1.5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (total national income) - just a penny and a half for each dollar - to the most effective programs.

This is substantially more than the estimated 0.23 percent of GDP in our current foreign aid, but no more than the USA spent to help a devastated Western Europe escape poverty after World War II. The Marshall Plan would never have succeeded if it depended on private donations.

Our proposal would bring over $500 billion more a year to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves from extreme poverty. We realize this is a tough sell in the current political climate. We also advocate that the aid we already spend is used much more wisely than it is now.

Poverty hits hardest on the world's poorest people. They are also the most cost-effective to help. We also advocate increased private giving and stronger incentives for businesses to participate. 

Much better techniques
Wise giving and effective legislation can create and fund targeted, well monitored, comprehensive programs with strong incentives for honest and efficient management.

Current programs often do more for domestic campaign contributors and special interests than for impoverished people. Billions of dollars are also lost to bureaucratic waste and corruption.

We can directly fund local people, empowering them to choose and monitor the programs that work best for them.

For example, we should not be shipping corn for as much as $300 a ton all the way from Iowa to eastern Africa. This raises our own food prices and produces extra greenhouse gases. Corn can be bought in local African markets for as little as $30 a ton, supporting local, impoverished farmers.

Wise giving by individuals and effective government programs can work together. Some changes, including trade and debt reform, must happen on an international scale. We can also create and fund well monitored programs adapted for specific, local challenges.

We can:

  • Establish free but fair trade. Include strong incentives to ensure decent working conditions and environmental protection. Reduce our price-distorting, anti-competitive domestic subsidies and trade barriers. This includes US-produced crops such as cotton, soy and grain. Workers and farmers worldwide can compete fairly and sell their products in a fully sustainable manner.

  • Build essential infrastructure, including roads, ports, electrification, and communications.

  • Offer massive debt relief. Impoverished nations should not be spending their funds to repay old loans. We often made these to corrupt leaders for inefficient programs we required them to fund.

  • Make it easier for immigrants to send low-fee remittances to their families in developing nations. This bypasses corrupt bureaucracies and goes direct to those in need. Despite expenses and obstacles, remittances worldwide to developing nations are already over $400 billion a year, compared to total global foreign aid estimated at only $135 billion a year. For larger transfers, precautions can still be taken to prevent money laundering.

  • Create incentives for national and local leaders to implement these programs successfully, free of corruption. The United Nations can empower an authoritative international criminal court to prosecute corrupt officials for crimes against humanity. Local democratic organizations must be supported and strengthened to encourage properly functioning governments.

  • Positive incentives can come from well-publicized recognition of the most successful leaders. Monetary rewards would then be offered. This innovative idea is already pioneered by Mo Ibrahim, founder of Celtel International, one of Africa's most successful companies. 

Painting of a big city compared with a small village by Man Gurung, an artist from NepalIn much of the world, there's a huge economic and educational gap between a few neighborhoods in big cities and everywhere else

  • Fund nonprofits with proven records of success rather than giving funds to corrupt dictators or bureaucrats.

  • Provide substantial additional funding to promote democracy and civil society in developing countries. This is a major help for economic development. Programs must encourage grassroots, citizen involvement.

  • Structure aid programs to empower all citizens as active participants, doing much of the work to help themselves. They need this power to ensure accountability and fairness for programs in their local areas. Local people can provide feedback that help ensure aid projects are managed in ways most likely to work in their area. They can be trained to maintain their new, local infrastructure.

  • Ensure that local leaders profit from helping as many people as possible or face removal by the majority of those they are assigned to help.

  • Support microfinance - cost effective programs of small loans, savings accounts, and other financial services for the poverty-stricken to start their own businesses and support themselves. This is already revitalizing entire communities globally. Micro-lending programs have high repayment rates, recycling funds for new loans to aid more people. Cash transfers and banking by cell phone can play a role.

  • Support social entrepreneurship worldwide. These proven, innovative programs make a huge difference at remarkably low cost, as described in David Bornstein's, How to Change the World and as promoted by organizations like Ashoka.

  • As explained in Making Globalization Work by Nobel Prize laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, the whole world can benefit from more flexible international intellectual property agreements. Developing nations will benefit greatly. For example, they could manufacture life-saving medications at a fraction of the price pharmaceutical corporations charge them. For-profit and social entrepreneurs can also create and market a wide range of additional innovations to help their people.

  • Offer incentives to developing nations to simplify their real estate property laws and make their court systems more accountable, monitored by unbiased third parties. Good legal infrastructure and secure personal property are major factors in the great economic success of the West.

  • Give the poor full, verified, legal ownership of their land and homes on government or unused land, except for environmentally sensitive areas. They can then secure loans to build valuable businesses that would create sustainable jobs, often in the neighborhoods where they are needed most. This is further explained in Hernando de Soto's book, The Mystery of Capital.

  • Use a homesteading program to encourage people to live in locations that are environmentally friendly with access to clean water, electricity, sanitation, jobs and public transportation.

  • Make direct cash transfers or distribute coupons, similar to food stamps, to the world’s poorest people. They can choose what best meets their needs, including inexpensive water filters to prevent disease, anti-malaria bed nets, drip irrigation, solar stoves and other products that make excellent use of scarce resources. Subsidize the research and marketing of new, innovative, cost-effective products that help the poor.

  • Provide emergency food when needed, but also help people raise their own food and earn a decent living. Increase aid for farmers to learn and implement much more productive but sustainable crop growing techniques that minimize use of poisonous chemicals.

  • Ensure easy access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

  • Support a full range of sexual and reproductive health education and services. Premarital abstinence should be encouraged, but this alone fails to prevent millions of unwanted births, the spread of AIDS and other serious diseases. Comprehensive programs are much better at preventing unwanted pregnancies and back-room abortions. Condoms and medical treatment should be available to all, including the most effective medications for AIDS and other diseases, regardless of ability to pay.

  • Fund the most cost-effective, preventative health programs. Initial programs can target the illnesses that hurt the most people and are least expensive to prevent and cure. This includes routine immunizations, anti-malaria bed nets, vitamin supplements and oral rehydration packets. These measures are all  low-cost. They already prevent millions of deaths per year. Studies have demonstrated that the less children a family has, the more likely the family will survive.

Group of boys in Quito, Ecuador

  • Invest in a full range of health, nutrition, and education for all children. This will prevent greater expenditures later for rehabilitation, unemployment, and imprisonment of those who have faced great obstacles.
    We can pay parents when they bring their children for routine health care and again when they keep their children in school. These incentives are proven to work.

  • In many cultures woman are overworked and neglected. We can deliver much of the aid directly to women, empowering them for greater control over their lives.

  • Protect children from slavery and exploitation by enforcing strict labor laws.

  • Implement effective programs to stop the flow of weapons to ruthless warlords and terrorists. This must include internationally enforced criminal penalties for those who sell illicit arms, even when indirectly through other nations.

  • Use programs that help protect the environment, including incentives for more sustainable practices.

  • Fund cultural programs that encourage arts and traditional crafts in developing nations as a source of income. Cultural exchanges can build the market for these crafts. Art plays a major role in creating a better world. For example, mural displays on buildings have been linked to reducing crime.
    Art helps people find inspiration, hope and pride in their own cultures and local areas. People all over the world can better understand each other through art that communicates the importance of social justice, tolerance, peace and sustainability.

  • Expand the Peace Corps, starting with a cost-effective, visionary campaign and financial incentives to recruit at least 300,000 volunteers from the USA. This is less than 0.1 percent of our population. It will cost just a fraction of the same size armed force. Volunteers can be thoroughly trained to help create and monitor the above programs worldwide.
    These volunteers can do more than teach one classroom, as valuable as that can be. They can be active throughout a local area, helping make sure all the above aid programs really help those in need. They will work as facilitators, helping empower rather than dictate to local people.
    Volunteers also foster international understanding by communicating with others about their experience. This work could go in in areas where volunteers' safety is assured. In less secure areas, there are other ways to gather direct feedback from people on what kind of aid they really need, and to foster transparency for corruption-free distribution of aid. This includes openly publishing how much money is budgeted for each village and neighborhood.

We can strongly urge all the world's wealthiest nations to follow our example with the same level of support for all these programs.

The main thing missing is the political will. That's where you come in!

Even a few minutes of your time can make a difference. Please Join the Campaign!

Making it better
The End Poverty Campaign Platform is open to learning what works best. We will continue adapting the most effective, proven ideas. Hearts & Minds will also gather additional experts on poverty, economic development, participatory democracy, and other disciplines to make sure we use the most effective methods.

Your suggestions are always welcome and appreciated!

Introduction to the End Poverty Campaign Platform
A Letter You Can Send  |  More on Ending Hunger and Poverty

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Copyrights: Entire website 1997 - 2016 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., Brazilian girl 2002 by Bill Blackman, artwork contrasting Western city and homes in a developing nation 2006 by Man Gurung, photo of group of Ecuadorian boys 1984 by Bill Blackman. This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/platform.htm - online January 24, 2004, latest changes December 15, 2016

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